Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A Celebratory Orange Cake (gluten free)

I love this gluten free Orange Cake. It is moist, heady with the scent and tang of orange and gorgeously sharable. Having had a crappy start to 2018, I decided that this would be my birthday treat..... No-one else was planning to make my birthday special with a cake, so I figured I would grab the opportunity for a bit of baking therapy and make it myself!

If I am honest, I am not really being critical of the lack of enthusiasm for my birthday from others..... It hasn't really felt like a reason to celebrate this year, partly because I am still trying to come to terms with the loss of my mother in January and that of my brother a couple of years ago. The loss of two family members so close together is a reminder that life is just too short..... Something needs to change in my world and soon...... The daily grind is not meeting my needs, either emotional or spiritual and I feel that somewhere along the way I got lost in anger and frustration and I don't want to be stuck there any more. Mid life crisis? I think so.

Whilst I am planning my route to betterness, baking cake will provide some 'down time' and a means of giving and caring..... birthday or not.

I have shared this cake before...... not on the blog, but with colleagues and friends. On every occasion, the recipients have retreated into silent munching interspersed with a happy 'mmm' (which I generally take to be a sign of grateful satisfaction), followed by feedback that has made me blush! I love that a simple cake can provide a sense of shared enjoyment...... it is a nice thing to give and is often my way of saying I care, or apologising for my shitty mood and attitude...... and recently my mood and attitude have been more than shitty!

Is it just me or do other people have periods in life when it feels that the negative energy just grabs hold and won't let go? Everything you touch bites back..... Every time you start to get back on your feet, something else happens that smacks you down. I need to find a way to change the energy......

But enough self-absorbed waffle..... let's get back to the cake..... Made with plenty of ground almonds and some home-made buttermilk, it stays moist and fresh. If anything, the crumb improves over a couple of days..... far from the often dry and crumbly gluten free offerings.

To make the cake extra celebratory, I filled and decorated it with some creamy, decadent orange buttercream, touched with a swirl of orange curd. When I have made the cake previously, I layered the buttercream and curd, but this made the cake a bit slippery to stack, so for this bake I have mixed the two elements together.

The home-made jelly made with the juice of blood oranges, not only gives this cake the wow factor, but adds a deliciously contrasting texture which marries beautifully against the sponge and velvety butter cream. Finished with a sparkle of edible gold heart sprinkles and some sugar flowers takes it from tea time cake to a show-stopping and very special treat..... For those of you who venture to make it, I hope you fall in love with it as much as we have.....

I am sharing my Celebratory Orange Cake with :

Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Baking Crumbs with Only Crumbs Remain

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Love Cake with Jibber Jabber

Brilliant Blog Posts with Honest Mum

Orange Cake (makes a 2 x 9 inch or 3 x 7 inch sandwich cake)


300g plain gluten free flour (I used GFA blend A from this post)
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
175g ground almonds
330 ml milk
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
150g unsalted butter - room temperature
400g caster sugar
3 large eggs - room temperature and lightly beaten together
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
zest 1 orange - finely grated

Orange Curd Butter Icing
190g unsalted butter - softened
400g icing sugar - sifted
pinch fine sea salt
½ teaspoon orange extract
3 to 4 heaped teaspoons orange curd

Orange Jelly
120g sieved orange juice (I used freshly squeezed blood orange)
1 tablespoon icing sugar
3g sheet gelatine

Additional Decorations 
I used sugar flowers and gold stars


  1. Sponge : Base-line two 9 inch or three 7 inch cake tins with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
  2. Weigh and thoroughly mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum salt and almonds (I weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
  3. Pour the milk and vinegar into a jug and stir so that the liquid becomes clumpy. Set aside.
  4. Use an electric whisk to cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  5. Gradually add the egg a little at a time and beat thoroughly between each addition until fully amalgamated.
  6. Add and beat through the vanilla and orange extracts and orange zest.
  7. Add and gently fold in the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, alternating wet with dry about a third at a time, until it has all been added. 
  8. Divide the cake batter evenly between the tins and smooth the surface.
  9. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  10. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Orange Curd Butter Icing : Beat the butter until smooth, then gradually add and beat in the icing sugar, salt, orange extract and curd until well-blended, light and creamy.
  12. Sandwich together the sponge cakes with a generous layer of butter icing. 
  13. Use a large palette knife and cake scraper to spread a thin layer of butter icing around the sides and top of the cake, then pipe rosettes tightly round the top edge (making sure there are no gaps as this will form the wall that will prevent the jelly escaping) and round the base using a large open star tip. Place in the fridge to firm up slightly.
  14. Orange Jelly : Hydrate the gelatine by placing the sheets flat, in cold water for 10 minutes.
  15. Heat the juice either in a small saucepan or in a jug in the microwave. 
  16. Add the icing sugar and stir until dissolved.
  17. Whilst the juice is still hot, add the softened gelatine and stir until completely dissolved.
  18. Set aside at room temperature, stirring frequently until the liquid is cold and just beginning to thicken very slightly (but is still liquid and pourable).
  19. Pour the jelly onto the top of the cake (inside the icing surround) and place in the fridge to set.
  20. Decorate with sparkles and sugar flowers and serve.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-18 unless otherwise indicated


  1. It's a gorgeous cake Kate and I hope baking it was therapeutic! It sounds like you've had a really tough time recently so fingers crossed you start to get your positive energy back soon. Sending you hugs xxx

    1. Thank you Corina. Baking is always therapeutic I think.... It's certainly been a thoroughly crap couple of years..... I am sure time will get me back on track and I am doing what I can to give back to myself right now! x

  2. Happy birthday - having a beautiful cake for your birthday is always cheering, even if you make it yourself and even because you have been skilled enough to make it yourself. It is a thing of beauty and style.

    Sorry to hear you are going through a bad patch. I have had enough to deal with over the last few years and so I understand how life can be tough - I read someone saying they had not been hit by any major disasters over their 40 years and I was surprised because so many people I know have it happen at one time or another but some worse than others and I think once you have one trauma it makes others worse. Good luck with rebooting and finding that resilience that is so hard when life is harsh! I hope the cake helped because sometime little victories are a good start.

    1. Thanks Johanna for your kind thoughts. It does seem that sometimes there seems to be a wave of rough stuff in life.... I'm beginning to reflect on what's important and have taken a bit of time out from my day job to get my energy and emotions on a level again. Cake is always a victory!

  3. Gah! I wrote a long response and lost it! Basically: Happy Birthday! And I've found kundalini yoga in the last 6 months and it's opened my mind and world to chakras, essential oils, crystals, TRE, EFT and meditation and it has all helped me to move energy. Look up TRE - I think it would really help you right now even if it can't be explained. And EFT too. Check out Sophie Lebrozec (talk to Mel about her) and Marie Houlden. Both have freebies that you can sign up to. You're right, it's time to shift your energy. You deserve more and there is so much more for you. You know where I am if you want to chat about any of this. I know it seems 'out there' but sometimes you have to do things that can't be explained! There is so much we don't know about the human brain and subconscious. x

    1. Thanks Vicki. I have taken some time out from the day job and am working hard to realign myself. I will check out your suggestions for sure..... Anything is worth trying right now. The time out is really helpful in allowing me to step back and reevaluate. I was getting so bogged down with crap! x

  4. Happy Birthday Kate! That looks a beautiful cake and such a delicious combination. I love the shiny blood orange jelly on top, really makes it celebratory. Wishing the rest of your year is better than the beginning.

    1. Thank you Katie. I really appreciate your kind thoughts x

  5. No wonder your friends and colleagues were pleased that you shared this. Looks stunning and can almost taste the tang of the orange. I've been reading Vicki's comment above and really hope you get some comfort soon. Take Care & Thanks once again for joining in with #Bakeoftheweek

    1. Thank you Helen for your support. As for #BakeOfTheWeek..... well I couldn't really let you escape this one could I?! x

  6. Happy birthday Kate. I hope things improve for you soon. It can be so hard to break out of that negative cycle - this cake looks like a great place to start. xxx

  7. Oh Kate, you really have had a rough time lately. I hope you can work things through and make the changes you need to make. In the meantime, cake seems a very sensible idea - especially one as fantastic as this one! Sending big hugs. And thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare. Eb x

    1. Thank you Eb for your kind thoughts and support. Really appreciated x

  8. Inspirational lady! You're so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. You been through the mill and back again bless you but this to me will pass and the hurt will fade. Baking is the perfect solution for now, you totally focus on your creation and then step back with pride at the end result, all good for the heart and mind xxx

    1. Thank you Rebecca. And thanks for being there! You are an amazing friend and support x

  9. I've never seen a cake with a jelly layer on the top or iced cutouts placed on butter cream - fabulous ideas!! The cake looks and sounds delicious! x

    1. Aww thank you! The jelly took the cake to another dimension and definitely made the cake extra special! x

  10. Ahhh! I love orange cakes!!! This looks really delicious and so pretty! I am going to take a slice now!�� Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday, Kate. Glad to see you as always!

  11. looks so yoummy will need to see if I can make a sugar free version maybe with stevia

  12. I'm so sorry you're going through a rough patch. Those times are so difficult, but it's good that you're trying to find ways to have a bit of down time. This cake looks delicious. My grandmother has have gluten-free food so I'm always drawn to nice treat recipes that I can make for her.

    And hopefully this will give you a bit of a boost too - somebody loved this post so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your "I've been featured" blog badge :) #blogcrush

    1. Thanks Lucy and honoured to be featured on #BlogCrush. x

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  14. Happy (belated) Birthday Kate. What an amazing cake to mark it with - it's a proper stunner - a real showstopper! I'm so sorry that everything is rough - take care Kate. Thankyou too for linking up with #BakingCrumbs,
    Angela x

    1. Thank you Angela and you're welcome. Things will get better..... just needs time! x

  15. This is simply gorgeous! Happy belated birthday Kate!
    I love the way you decorate your cakes. Yummy :-)

  16. So much flavor in this cake. Pinning for later!

  17. The cake looks awesome..couldn't take my eyes off of it

  18. What a showstopper and thoroughly fitting for your birthday. I hope you find your direction in life. The past cannot be changed but future is for living to the full.

    1. Thanks Ness. I totally agree..... I am taking some time for reflection right now and am certainly questioning what it's all about and how much time we waste on stuff which is just not important! x

  19. This cake is utterly gorgeous, Kate, I hope it's sweetened your special day a little:) Every negative experience brings something positive and in your case, the realisation that life is too short and you need to change things. That's a great start. I am sure there are many sunny days ahead for you!

    1. Thank you Monika.... There will be for sure..... x


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